Thursday, September 27, 2018

And the Shit Get's Realer

By now everyone knows that Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille are going to leave the SIHH in 2020.  It is also well documented that both brands feel that participation in shows like the SIHH is no longer really needed for them as they are focused more on mono-brand retail, etc.  The other more subtle message is that "Hey, the media we want to communicate with, we do.  deal with it!"  

And if I am honest, after receiving a seemingly endless stream of announcements about golf ambassadors and only getting watch info. from AP's duly appointed North American press agent days after other outlets have had their duly mandated head start, I won't really be missing anything.  I have even less flattering feedback about Richard Mille's attempts at press engagement, but in fairness, that is not really what I am driving at today.  Both brands spend goofy amounts of money on the types to events and ideas that seem more the by-product of heavy drinking than actual sober rational thought.  Hitting golf balls off of a building and hoping that they will somehow be caught by a drone hovering over the water with a net comes to mind.  It does, however, offer an opportunity for people in the fishing industry to add a second stream of income as golf balls hit by famous pros might be found like Easter Eggs when they are gutting their catch...

Whether or not this is an issue of a belief that participation in the SIHH is a waste of time, or if it is economic reality rearing its ugly head would require a deeper dive.  Some say both brands are on fire - i.e. doing really well.  While I suspect that both brands are doing okay, in truth we can't really know as they are privately held.   To the best of my knowledge, AP has done right by their employees and if I am honest, that to me is a key measure of corporate citizenship.  

I am not fully convinced that either brand firmly believes that the SIHH is a waste of time.  I think both brands are extremely image conscious and they love the opportunity to have a bright light shone on them.  I do think economics, on some level, are playing a part.  No offense to either brand, but despite their catchy marketing language, they operate in many ways like the other big dogs, and do not really display what I would call "alpha" behavior.  

And as I find the folks running the SIHH to be some of the snottiest folks on earth - yes, I said it - I am not going to shed too many tears for them.

The other news that I think is even more important that got buried under the SIHH hand-wringing was the announcement that Raymond Weil will not be back for BaselWorld 2019.  Unlike the two aforementioned houses, Raymond Weil does not have a wealth of mono-brand boutiques.  They are extremely dependent on the type of retail stores that attend shows like BaselWorld.  My hunch is that this is more of an economic decision.  When Movado pulled out prior to this past year's shindig I said (and still say) it made sense.  Movado and it's brands are everywhere.  They have a deep team of reps who cover the territories and make sure that stores have product.  They also have their own outlet stores.  So it made sense.  For Raymond Weil?  Not so much.  

Whether people want to believe it or not, I think what we are really seeing is a reality check for both the (seemingly) mighty and small alike that the good old days are not coming back, and they now need to exercise fiscal responsibility.  Or in the words of that other great commentator on the watch industry, Slim Charles -

Courtesy of the Wire

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